Romans 14:1-2

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

October 6, 1999


Paul has moved through his doctrinal section in Romans and now has moved on to the practical side of things.  Heís been telling the church in Rome how they are a "body", and like a body, they are all separate parts that belong and function together. Heís talked to them about their obligations to each other like loving without hypocrisy, meeting needs, blessing, and not taking vengeance. Heís talked about our need to submit to those in authority and the debt of love we owe others, as well as our motivation to obey because of Jesusí soon return.

:1-6 Receiving the weak

:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye,

weak Ė astheneo Ė to be weak, feeble, to be without strength, powerless

receive Ė proslambano Ė to take to, take in addition, to take to one's self; to take as one's companion; to take by the hand in order to lead aside; to take or receive into one's home, with the collateral idea of kindness; to receive, i.e. grant one access to one's heart ; to take into friendship.

The verb is a "present imperative", meaning that it is a command, not a suggestion, and we are to be doing this all the time. Donít just give a person a "one time shot" at being received by you.

Who is the weaker brother?

One who still feels like their relationship with the Lord depends upon their keeping certain rules or laws. They have a struggle accepting by faith that Jesusí righteousness is enough.

Paul is going to give two examples of these "gray" areas where people can differ in their opinions. A "gray" area is one where the Scripture doesnít specifically forbid a certain thing. Some people take it one way, others take it another way.

One area is over the issue of what you eat or donít eat. The other issue is about what day you think is the best for worshipping God.


What are some potential "weak brother" issues for us?

What you can eat or not eat. Movies. TV. Dancing. Celebrating Christmas. Pokemon cards. Going to the beach. Drinking alcohol. Smoking.

An old saying was, "I donít smoke and I donít chew and I donít go with girls that do!"

These are things that seem to fall into kinds of "gray" areas, areas where I donít think Iíd see any specific prohibition in Scripture. Scripture says itís wrong to be drunk, but it doesnít say itís wrong to drink. I know people who are very strong against smoking, talking about defiling the temple of God. But I think if youíre overweight or have high cholesterol, youíre probably just as bad. Christians who live in the South, where tobacco is grown, often donít have any problems at all with Christians smoking. Christians in England and Europe, strong Christians, will drink wine or brandy, and even smoke cigars. I believe C.S. Lewis would fall into this category. Some of these things are more of a "forbidden" thing in a local culture than they are forbidden in Scripture.


What are NOT "weak" issues.

I need to be clear here. There are some things in Scripture that are non-negotiable. There are some things that are just plain wrong.

(1 Cor 6:9-20 KJV) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, {10} Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

People whose lives are characterized by these things wonít be in heaven.

{11} And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. {12} All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. {13} Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. {14} And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. {15} Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. {16} What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. {17} But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. {18} Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. {19} What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? {20} For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Paul is saying that food isnít an issue. But immorality is. Food is a gray area, immorality (sex outside of marriage) is wrong.

There are certain things that are expressly forbidden in Scripture. We need to stay away from those things. But there are many things that arenít specifically spoken to. We need to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit guiding us.

When a person is claiming to be a Christian and continually doing things that the Lord has forbidden, if they donít respond to our loving rebuke, we are to separate ourselves from that person.

(1 Cor 5:9-13 KJV) I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: {10} Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. {11} But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. {12} For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? {13} But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

This is in contrast to here in Romans 14, where the issue isnít something thatís forbidden. When itís a "gray" area, we are to "accept" the other who has a view different from ours. When itís a "black and white" area, and the person refuses to try and change, then we are to separate from them.

:1 but not to doubtful disputations.

doubtful Ė dialogismos Ė the thinking of a man deliberating with himself; a deliberating, questioning about what is true; hesitation, doubting; disputing, arguing

disputations Ė diakrisis Ė a distinguishing, discerning, judging. This is the word used to describe the gift of the Spirit, "discerning of spirits" (1Cor. 12:10).

Literally, "not for discerning the things he considers doubtful", or, "not for judging the things he hesitates about".

(Rom 14:1 NASB) but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.

(Rom 14:1 NLT) don't argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.


Donít try to straighten everyone out.

A.T. Robertson: "The "strong" brother is not called upon to settle all the scruples of the "weak" brother. But each takes it on himself to do it."

Sometimes us more "mature" Christians will try to take someone "under our wing" for the purpose of "setting him straight".

There are some churches where if you expect to "fit in", then you are going to need to dress a certain way, act a certain way, cut your hair a certain way, even talk a certain way. What was so refreshing about Calvary Chapel in the late sixties was that Pastor Chuck learned to just love the hippie kids, even though they didnít quite fit the mold of the average church-goer of the time. I remember being in a church when a "long hair" showed up, and boy did they stick out like a sore thumb!

You donít need to play "Holy Spirit" to your friends by trying to bring them under conviction. The Holy Spirit does a fine job without your help.

:2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

eat Ė phago Ė to eat; to eat (consume) a thing

eateth Ė esthio Ė to eat; to eat (consume) a thing

herbs Ė lachanon Ė any pot herb, vegetables

"This one believes in order to eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables"

There were and still are today some groups who hold to a strict vegetarian diet. Others will hold to the Jewish dietary laws, forbidding the eating of pork, lobster, shrimp, etc.

But in reality, food doesnít make you better or worse in your relationship with God. Jesus said that it wasnít what you ate that defiled you, but what comes out of your life that defiles you:

(Mark 7:18-23 KJV) And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; {19} Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? {20} And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. {21} For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, {22} Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: {23} All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Paul said that God gave us food to eat, and we ought to be thankful about it, all of it:

(1 Tim 4:4-5 KJV) For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: {5} For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Itís the "weak" brother who is the one who has trouble eating meat. Sometimes we think that the person who has a problem in a certain area is really the spiritual one. If someone talks about how they donít go to certain kinds of movies, or go and do certain kinds of things, they may actually be a "weaker" brother.


Whatís your motive?

I think it all depends on why you do or donít do certain things. If your reason for not going to the movies is because you think it will get you "brownie points" with God, then you are a weaker brother. If your reason is because you simply have lost the taste for those kinds of movies, and it really doesnít matter whether you go or donít go, then it shows that Jesus is probably conforming you into His image.

Paul tells us what the best motive is for doing anything:

(1 Cor 13:1-3 NASB) If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. {2} And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. {3} And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

If my motive is to be noticed by God or to try to earn His favor, Iím wasting my time. I can do nothing to "earn" Godís favor. I already have it. But on the other hand, if Iím motivated for my love for God or my love for others, then my actions are valuable.